I met Ms Sarah Ezekiel in a face book group we both belong to. I was blown away by the beautiful, confident young lady I saw as, she asked us all to help vote her to victory in a pageant she was participating in. I greatly admire her confidence and belief in self and I thought her story would go a long way to motivate others. Fortunately, she accepted to grant me this interview and as the world gears towards celebrating World Sickle Cell Day on June 19th, her story is a great one to feature on our featured stories which I started in March. Please read on and tell us your views in the comment section.
Joy2Endure (J2E): It is a pleasure to meet you Ms Sarah and an even greater pleasure for accepting to share your story with us. Can you please tell us about yourself?
Sarah Ezekiel (SE): I am Sarah Ezekiel, the last child of Engr. Sunday Ezekiel and Pst(Mrs.) Abigail Ezekiel.. I have 9 elder siblings. I studied Law in University Of Abuja, although I’ve not attended law school yet… I am a Christian and I love God so much, I love acting, dancing, singing, hanging out with my friends.
J2E: That is quiet a list of interests. How did you feel when you came to know about your SS status?
SE: At first, I hated myself because I was limited from doing some things I wanted to do like; (i) entering the rain to play with my friends, (ii) participating in any sport.. The list goes on. A lot of people made fun of me at any opportunity they had, and my self esteem dropped to zero… Because of the hatred I had for myself, I started praying and fasting for God to change my genotype from SS to AA, but He did not because He had a plan for me.
J2E: I can imagine just how hard it must have been for you. How did you overcome your challenges and fears?
SE: Late last year, when I was having my quiet time, I stumbled on Ps 139:14, since then I started loving who I am and accepted myself the way God has created me and today am not shy to tell anyone, who cares to listen that am SS and am PROUD, am not different from someone who is AA and I don’t limit myself at all. I just make sure I am close to God every day, because His my pillar, my strength, I don’t joke with my medications, nor my fluids and my resting time.
J2E: Quiet an amazing turnabout well done. Congratulations also on your recent win as the Face of Sickle Cell 2016 for Maidunna Sickle Cell Foundation. What pushed you to take up this challenge and what do you wish to accomplish as a Face of Sickle Cell?
SE: My sister (Mrs. Emily Ajakaye) sent a picture of the contest to me on whatsapp, on the 2nd of May 2016, I really didn’t want to participate, but she convinced me to participate just for the fun of it, another thing that made me to participate is that it was for free no purchasing of any form for registration and also, I have always had an open mind to all these beauty pageants. But I was faced with the challenge that the whole world would realise am a Sickle Cell patient, but there and then I realised it doesn’t matter I am SS and am happy, it doesn’t make me less of a human being. I also showed the picture to my best friend (Lanre Ajibola) and he said ‘We will win this, congratulations in advance’ I decided to send my details to the e-mail provided on the picture and I was ready to win, I prayed to God to win.. When the voting started, I really felt loved bymy friends and family who went as far as mentioning people to open the link and like my picture… I just want to use this opportunity to thank you all who believed in me… I love you all… During the contest I faced hard times as well, some people felt the contest was a joke and made fun of me, but I quickly put them in their place. Above all, I don’t regret entering for the contest, even if I had not won, because this contest has really made me to accept myself and to be proud of who I am.
J2E: As the world strives to bring Sickle Cell as a health issue of import come June 19th to the fore, what words of encouragement do you have for other SS warriors?
SE: These are my words of encouragement to SS warriors out there; You are WARRIORS, accept who you are and love yourself, anyone who feels they could look down on you or talk down on you, tell them they are not better than you, in fact you are a special being and you were created in a special way, be proud of yourself, love God and love yourself, when you love yourself, you would achieve anything you set your heart to achieve.. Never look down on yourself, you are born to reign, always believe and trust God, take your medications, always, take plenty water and rest very well… Never let anyone call you a ‘sickler’ instead tell them am special… I am Sarah, am SS, am tall, beautiful and am proud of who I am...
Usually, when one hears of a beauty pageant or a face of something, one immediately pictures society’s notion of beauty… strong, model like appearance, etc. I will give it to Maidunna Sickle Cell Foundation for daring to be different to redefine beauty to include a people shunned and considered ‘half die’. We still have a long way to go to break the silence and existing taboos surrounding sickle cell disease. I applaud the efforts individuals and communities in Nigeria are making towards this. My Cameroonian people can learn a thing or two from our brothers across the border and stop stigmatising and discriminating against sickle cell warriors. Let’s work together to #BeASickleCellVoice.
Thank you very much Ms Sarah for sharing your story with us. One thing that stands out is your quite confidence and belief in yourself. The love of your support team is also very telling. Keep Standing tall and proud my fellow beautiful warrior.
Photo credits Ms Sarah Ezekiel.
Ps: Someday, I will get better at this interview thing. For now, enjoy the inspiring stories and be inspired.
Keep reading, keep sharing and keep commenting. We are inspired by your comments, thank you.
ARREY E. AGBOR-NDAKAW.